Bullet stopped wiping his face, “Who was she really? Do you know?”
“No,” Daniel continued to watch him, “we were hoping you might know. We’re guessing she’s one of the Dominators.”
Looking over at Daniel, Bullet stuffed his handkerchief back in his pants pocket, “I’m going to kill her.”
“You don’t know where she is,” Tara said, her voice level and controlled. “You haven’t seen her since and you haven’t been looking because she controlled you so completely that you never tried. What makes you think that you could?”
Turning toward her, he bared his teeth, all but snarling. I half-expected that he was going to scream at her.
“You were involved with her,” Tara watched him, not making any hostile moves, but both of her hands lay near her utility belt. She’d moved her right foot back into position to push herself up. She expected a fight.
He was, Daniel told me, but that wasn’t in his surface thoughts until she said so.
His voice low, Bullet said, “Get out.”
He’s a hair away from attacking, Daniel thought at all of us. Let’s do that.
“Sorry about that,” I said as I stood up and Tara passed behind my chair, moving toward the door.
Bullet didn’t reply. I let Yoselin and Daniel step out before I did, less out of politeness and more because I felt more confident that my armor could take the blow than anyone else’s. Everyone wore one of my suits, but with the exception of Yoselin’s, they weren’t suits designed first of all with the thought of taking the kind of damage Bullet could dish out.
It struck me that it might be worth a comforting word or at least one that might deescalate the situation. None came to mind, so I followed everyone out into the hall, watching Bullet in my HUD’s peripheral vision.
He didn’t attack.
We didn’t say anything as we started walking back. It seemed best to allow him every possible chance to ignore us. Plus, though I hadn’t paid attention to it on the way in, the Coffeeshop Illuminati used the standard protocol that allowed visitors access to a map of their base. My HUD overlaid the rooms’ names above the doorways as we passed. It also placed a map in the upper corner of my vision. A lot of rooms were labeled “private” as well as most of the lower levels.
It didn’t seem like a good time to poke around and find out what they were hiding.
As I considered that along with the fact that I hadn’t gotten to ask about whether Adam was still involved in the group, I felt Daniel connect everyone’s minds. Tara’s got something she wants to share.
I felt a hint of fear along with relief and happiness as she told us, I know that didn’t end well, but it wasn’t going to anyway, and this way I got something out of it.
A surge of strong interest came from Yoselin as she asked, More than his relationship with the archer?
Yes. That she was a Dominator, but not the only one, and that whoever the current Dominator is, they’re not coordinating. If they were, the new Dominator would have reinforced her command to keep her killing of Master Martian secret.
Wait, I thought, you’re saying that he’s being influenced now.
She’s right, Daniel thought at us, I wouldn’t have known it if she hadn’t said anything, but once she did I could see signs outside of his block—which is a step better than most blocks around here. We should make getting out a priority. I’m not sensing that he’s being influenced right at this very second, but who knows what kinds of triggers have been set up.
Tara picked up the pace—not in a running through the house at breakneck speed sense, but a touch faster. We’d be out soon, but we wouldn’t be running the way we would if we’d just planted a bomb.
As we began to near the weight room we’d passed on the way in, a door opened. According to the map, it opened into a stairway that lead down to one of the sections marked private in the first level of the basement.
Three people stepped out of the doorway and into the hall in front of us. As the door opened, I thought they might be about to attack, turning on targeting systems and readying myself for whatever might be coming.
Next to me, Yoselin began to raise her arms, not pointing them exactly at the door, but close enough.
Relax, Daniel thought at me. This should be okay.
Hunter and Gifford stepped through the door first, both of them in sweat-soaked exercise clothes. Hunter was smaller and dark-haired. Gifford looked much like his brother Gordon, a square-jawed, muscular, potential model even if unlike Gordon he had brown hair.
Behind them came the biggest surprise—Stephanie. With long dark hair and eyes that seemed to take in all of us at once, Stephanie wasn’t in an exercise uniform. She wore dark blue armor, the upper layer of which had a mesh-like texture. I know it wasn’t the same costume she’d used when we were at Higher Ground, but she was into upgrading her gear.
Gifford grinned at us, “Gordon told me you were here.”